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New Zealand cinema and the postcolonial exotic: the case of Apron Strings

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The New Zealand film industry has played a crucial role in shoring up the symbolic boundaries of this settler nation. Cultural difference (most often indigenous Mori differences) has helped signal the distinctiveness of this nation within a global context. In some ways then, this persistent eye to a global market, as well as the history of British settlement, makes New Zealand cinema always already transnational. While The Lord of the Rings trilogy seems an obvious example of such transnational trafficking, the 2008 State-funded feature film Apron Strings also offers opportunities for thinking about the out-of-nation-ness of New Zealand film production. Apron Strings is the first South Asian film to be funded through official channels in New Zealand. Two diasporic media producers are responsible for the film Samoan/New Zealand director Sima Urale and Indian scriptwriter Shuchi Kothari. If, as Will Higbee and Song Hwee Lim argue, diasporic or postcolonial transnational cinema is consistently located on the margins of dominant film culture (2010: 10), what of those diasporic film-makers who work within a national film industry? How might Apron Strings rework these centre/margin relations to reveal the transnational dimensions of settler colonial identity?

Keywords: biculturalism; diasporic; multiculturalism; postcolonial exotic; settler cinema; settler nationalism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/trac.1.2.129_1

Affiliations: Victoria University of Wellington.

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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  • Transnational Cinemas has emerged in response to a shift in global film cultures and how we understand them. Dynamic new industrial and textual practices are being established throughout the world and the academic community is responding. Transnational Cinemas aims to break down traditional geographical divisions and welcomes submissions that reflect the changing nature of global filmmaking.
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